For Rob and Tania McCormack, FishSki Provisions is a nod to their most favorite outdoor pursuits: fly fishing and skiing. When their love of Southwest flavors and passion for cooking spilled into their adventures, they took the leap and launched an adventure meal startup out of their Taos, New Mexico home.
The star of the show in all of FishSki’s meals are the region’s beloved Hatch chile. Offering varied amounts of heat and sweet, Hatch chilies are peppers grown in the heart of Rio Grande agricultural territory, an area dubbed the Chile Capital of the World.
If Sonoma is to wine, Rob explained, Northern New Mexico is to chilies.
“We couldn’t be in a better place on earth, chile-wise,” Rob said. “The hot days, cool nights, perfect elevation and the Rio Grande providing great nutrient volcanic soil, it all comes together.”
FishSki offers three easy-to-make meals that were originally backpacking and rafting recipes for Rob and Tania: Hatch Green Chile Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese, Hatch Red Chile Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese and Hatch Green Chile Jalapeno Cheddar Grits.
The Red Chile Mac and Cheese is labeled ‘very mild’ and the Green Chile Mac and Cheese is a stitch spicier but still considered mild. The grits pack the most punch of the three meals and is Rob’s personal favorite. “They definitely bring some heat,” he said.
If the Hatch chilies are FishSki’s main event, the supporting acts are Kansas macaroni pasta and whole grain grits. The latter is made from heirloom corn grown in the nearby Four Corners area, and easily FishSki’s number one seller. “People are crazy about grits!” Rob said. “A grits lover can be anywhere.”
Unlike many dehydrated and freeze-dried adventure meals, FishSki only uses air dried ingredients. “After many years of outdoor pursuits, Tania and I both shy away from dehydrated foods and getting ‘trail belly,’” Rob explained. “We use air dried ingredients because they’re processed less and have better flavor.”
FishSki meals are not “eat out of a bag” meals, but the preparation couldn't be simpler. Dump the two-serving contents into a pot, use the water measuring line conveniently marked on the bag, and let ‘er cook.
Once all the water is absorbed into the food (no straining required), add the cheese and spice mix and stir with vigor. While it might take longer to cook than other adventure meals on the market, FishSki believes there are plenty of outdoors people who appreciate a great-tasting meal even if it takes more time to prepare.
The kitchen where FishSki prepares its Hatch chile one-pot meals runs on 100% solar power. Located in nearby Alcalde, New Mexico, which sees an average of 310 days of sunshine each year, solar just makes sense, Rob said.
Additionally, the FishSki office — which is also the McCormack’s home — is completely off grid and 100% solar powered, as well.
FishSki’s packaging is recycled, too, and even recyclable after use.
Rob and Tania get help with food preparation from a team living at an addiction recovery center across the street from the FishSki manufacturing headquarters. Gaining vital job skills, experience and a resume, FishSki takes pride in providing this opportunity to members of their community. “We’re a small group, but we get it done.”
The couple's toddler volunteers his services as unofficial taste-tester, too. “He has an affinity for the Red Chile Mac, and it was maybe even his first food,” Rob laughed.
Just selling easy-to-prepare Southwest adventure meals wasn’t enough for the McCormacks, though.
Part of being an outdoors person, especially being into fly fishing, it’s natural to become interested in conservation, Rob said. “You start to realize the importance of access to public lands and waters, and it’s important that as outdoors people we know the resources out there are doing good and where needed, are improving.”
With a formal background in fisheries and environmental consulting, Rob has been a Trout Unlimited member and volunteer since he was 16 years old; and now as a Trout Unlimited Business Member, continues to give back.
“I’ve really seen and understand the worth of giving to volunteer groups and the impact that it can have on the ground,” Rob said. “We’re always looking for shovel-ready projects that are going to make an immediate impact.”
FishSki donates more than 3% of sales each year to projects ranging from trail restoration on Colorado’s high peaks to native Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout reintroduction in Sand Dunes National Park. FishSki also supports Colorado Trout Unlimited's Youth Camp.
“Being able to give back keeps me engaged on the conservation side in a completely fun and different way,” Rob said.